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Charlotte Humberston · 25th July 2023

What is Salesforce CPQ and what does it do?

The Salesforce world is full of acronyms. Whether you’re an admin, developer, or completely new to the ecosystem, CPQ is another one to add to your ever-expanding list of Salesforce vocabulary. But what exactly is Salesforce CPQ, and why should you learn more about it? Read on to find out more.

Salesforce CPQ: the basics

Salesforce CPQ has been available for over a decade, but it’s become much more popular in recent years, particularly as business models around the world become more complex. In basic terms, CPQ is a sales tool built on the Salesforce platform that enables sales reps to generate individual customer quotes with just a few clicks.

CPQ stands for Configure, Price, Quote, referring to the three steps of the process: configuring products to meet customer requirements, making pricing adjustments based on those configurations, and generating a sales quote for the customer. This enables sales teams to generate quotes quickly and more accurately, freeing up time to focus on engaging with customers, cross selling, and paving the way for stronger revenue growth.

Why use Salesforce CPQ?

Salesforce CPQ is particularly useful for businesses that have complex products or pricing structures. It allows multiple factors to be configured into a quote, taking into account optional features, customizations, quantities and variable discounts into an easy-to-use pricing model. This can be particularly useful in software or service use cases, where pricing may be recurring or subscription based, requiring more flexibility and the ability to manage complex pricing scenarios and revenue models.

As well as enabling teams to easily generate accurate quotes and better monitor their sales pipeline, it also acts as a comprehensive data management system, which can help businesses manage their products, pricing and customer data more efficiently. Organizations can define complex pricing models that help them stay competitive and meet their customers’ needs, and they can use a plethora of reports and data to improve sales optimization and increase customer satisfaction.

Key Salesforce CPQ features

Salesforce CPQ software has a huge range of features which enable sales reps to efficiently and accurately generate the right quotes for their customers:

Product and price rules

These ensure sales reps are putting together the products and bundles which are compatible with each other, and which are appropriate for the customers’ needs. There are a range of different product and price rules that can be set according to the requirements of your organization.

Guided selling

This is a set of prompts that ask sales reps about the types of products they want when they’re adding products to a quote, and guides them to the most appropriate product and package selections. These prompts help simplify the sales process, reduce the time taken to generate a quote, and make sure the right products are suggested to the right customers.

Advanced approvals

These automate and help you customize the approvals process by setting different rules. Examples could include additional approvals for when records meet certain conditions, automation of resubmitted approvals, or controlling the order in which approvers receive requests. You can also establish chains of approval, which can be particularly useful in large or complex deals.

Twin fields

These are used to map custom Salesforce CPQ fields between objects. Certain pairs of CPQ objects pass custom field values from the first object to the second object when the second object is created. The values pass if the custom fields are editable, have matching field types, and have matching API names, and are called “twin fields”.

Dynamic pricing

Dynamic pricing helps you to establish pricing rules based on a number of different factors, and allows you to easily offer discounts, bulk pricing, or promotional offers. It also means that sales reps always have access to the most current and accurate pricing information, reducing errors and, in some cases, the need for additional approvals.

These are just a handful of the available features — CPQ software is powerful and highly customizable to your business needs. But making use of these features isn’t always straightforward.

Deploying CPQ can be complicated

CPQ can be an incredibly useful tool, but many professionals working with Salesforce find the implementation process and CPQ deployments particularly challenging. What exactly is it about CPQ deployments that make them so difficult, slow and error prone for so many teams?

Like many Salesforce applications, Salesforce CPQ consists of both metadata and data. Both of these are essential – the metadata defines the CPQ functionality, while the data drives the CPQ processes, such as product configuration, pricing calculations and quote generation.

As a result, the CPQ data model is highly complex and relies on many interconnected elements. When deploying CPQ between environments, you have to maintain object relationships as well as manage dependencies between various components, including objects, fields, rules and workflows. If you don’t identify and preserve these during migration, the CPQ system won’t function correctly in the target environment.

The huge data sets contained within Salesforce CPQ pose another problem — transferring these large volumes of data can be time consuming, as well as putting you at risk of errors and data loss. Other challenges are presented by the need to preserve intricate business logic, meet security requirements and conduct extensive testing too.

The good news is that with the right tools, you can eliminate CPQ headaches. Teams commonly use data loader tools, or deployment tools specifically designed for Salesforce which can seamlessly manage data, metadata, and their complex relationships.

Boost your Salesforce CPQ skillset

If you want to find out more about implementing Salesforce CPQ and how to get the most out of it, try our free course on DevOps Launchpad! You’ll find out when to use Salesforce CPQ, its key features and functionality, and best practices for both data management and tackling those notoriously tricky CPQ deployments. Our Gearset for CPQ course is also available, covering how to deploy CPQ configuration and metadata in a single deployment with a tool designed specifically for Salesforce!

You can also learn more about CPQ over at the DevOps Diaries podcast — particularly our episode with special guests Grand Mangum and Deepak Veera from Cloud Giants. This episode dives deeper into what CPQ is, and some of the challenges of working with it as part of your DevOps process. Jack, Grant, and Deepak chat about the particularities of building CPQ, ghost quotes, and the 3 key things that form the backbone of a great CPQ delivery process.